Commercial Closet Association
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Commercial Closet Association is a New York City based non-profit organization, founded in 2001 to educate and influence the $1.1 trillion annual worldwide advertising market ($128 billion in the US alone) to foster understanding, respect and inclusion of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people to achieve a more accepting society and successful business results.
The organization is not a pressure group or watchdog on advertising. It does not attempt to enforce rules or represent that a single "LGBT point of view" exists, given the great diversity of the LGBT population. It does not seek to embarrass advertisers, organize protests against them or their advertising, or force them to do anything except expand their understanding and awareness of LGBT sensitivity in all advertising using business rationales.
The organization believes that by reaching the image makers themselves, future advertising will be more inclusive and positive through this education.
Commercial Closet Association educates the business and advertising world through advertising training, an online Ad Library, Best Practices guidelines, a monthly LGBT advertising issues column, and the annual IMAGES IN ADVERTISING AWARDS event to honor excellence of LGBT portrayals in advertising.
The organization raises ad industry awareness of the issues of homophobia and transphobia in mainstream advertising, and has created joint efforts in conjunction with the Association of National Advertisers, the American Association of Advertising Agencies, as well as New York politicians like Thomas Duane, and major advertising agency leaders such as Tony Wright, Chairman of Lowe Worldwide.
The CCA Ad Library on its website is a global online collection of 4,000+ LGBT-themed ads from over 33 countries, including hundreds of companies and ad agencies, going back to 1917. The site includes ratings, consumer feedback, Advertising Best Practices, and other resources. The Ad Library is intended to give advertisers and advertising agencies guidance on their work and competitors. The Ad Library has reached over 6 million people, and 100,000 unique visitors monthly. By seeing what competitors have done, it works to provide corporate confidence to pursue more positive and inclusive LGBT representations.
The Best Practices guidelines outline how to create respectful ad representations of LGBT people and have been presented as part of advertising training to numerous corporations and advertising agencies nationwide, including American Express, AT&T, Campbell Soup, Citibank, IBM, Hewlett Packard, Kraft Foods, Miller Brewing, Motorola, Whirlpool Corporation, Merrill Lynch, Yahoo, Google, Quaker Oats Co., Johnson & Johnson, Glaxo SmithKline, Toyota, Nationwide Insurance, Prudential Financial, Arnold Communications and more, as well as universities including Princeton, Yale, Columbia, Dartmouth, Duke, and others.
The organization provides media outreach through seeding and fielding 40-50 annual press stories and by conducting worldwide advertising tracking and analysis of LGBT representations, complete with ratings and visitor feedback. News agencies and media outlets that have been reached include CNN, ABC, BBC, VH-1, The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, Business Week, Financial Times, Newsweek, USA Today Adweek, Adweek, The Hollywood Reporter, and more.
CCA also publishes original data reports including the Corporate Sponsorship Report, a first-of-its-kind tracking LGBT sponsorship spending, broken out by top spending companies and top earning LGBT organizations and events.
The Images in Advertising Awards rewards ad agencies and their clients for outstanding LGBT representations in ads each year. It is sponsored by ad agencies including Lowe Worldwide, Arnold Worldwide, Interpublic Group, SSH+K, and others.
In December 2012, Commercial Closet Association was relaunched as AdRespect.org.
The organization caters to four important tiers to achieve its goals: marketing and ad agency corporate officer|executives, university students/professors, media, and consumers.
CCA has partnerships with leading advertising industry associations and media, and the largest LGBT organizations in the United States. Ad industry groups include the Association of National Advertisers and the Advertising Educational Foundation. Media include The New York Times, Sirius Satellite Radio, and Adweek. Gay community groups include the Human Rights Campaign (HRC), the Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD) and the school-oriented Gay Lesbian Straight Education Network (GLSEN).
GLSEN carries a Student Viewing Guide for teachers, and Human Rights Campaign carries CCA's monthly gay advertising issues column, the Advertising Best Practices and excerpts from Commercial Closet in the marketing section of WorkNet.
About CCA's Founder/Executive Director
New York City-based business journalist Michael Wilke has written about lesbian and gay advertising issues since 1992 for Inside Media, Advertising Age (Crain Communications), Adweek (Nielsen Company), and other publications. He is credited with coining the term "gay vague" in 1997 while at Advertising Age. and has been interviewed by The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, Associated Press, and Reuters; he has appeared on all the US television networks and internationally to talk about the subject. Wilke served as a judge in 2006 for the Association of National Advertisers Multicultural Excellence Awards, as the New York chapter president of the National Lesbian and Gay Journalists Association from 1998–2000, and as co-programmer of the 1998 NLGJA national conference in Las Vegas. He is a 2005 recipient of the Hearst Professional in Residence Fellowship, was a 2002 Crain Lecturer at the Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University, was honored in 2001 as one of the "OUT 100" by Out (magazine)  and received a 1998 honor at the GLAAD Media Awards for his journalistic coverage of gay advertising, marketing, and media. His syndicated national column, The Commercial Closet, appears in leading LGBT newspapers and web sites.
About CCA's History
The organization developed out of work by Advertising Age magazine business journalist Michael Wilke, who was invited in 1996 by the New York City Gay & Lesbian Film Festival to present a worldwide history of LGBT representations in commercials. Wilke was already known for his work in writing about gay and lesbian matters in advertising. Wilke's video program, called "The Commercial Closet" appeared in 1997, then was widely presented at film festivals internationally, and in 2001 Wilke was funded by broadcast historian Michael Collins, then of Quinnipiac College of Connecticut, to start a full nonprofit organization by the same name The project was assisted by the pro-bono work of New York-based web development firm Mediapolis and designer Stephen Mack of Gnomist, to develop the first version of CCA's online advertising library and ad ratings system at CommercialCloset.org. Three years later, the name evolved to Commercial Closet Association to indicate that it was an organization and to distinguish from the educational programs it produced.
CCA is supported through foundation grants, corporate sponsorships, fundraising events, membership, individual donations, and training fees.
- Adrienne Mand (2001), "Site for gay ads debuts", Advertising Age
- Ikard, John (2005), Sustainable Capitalism: A Matter of Common Sense, Sterling, VA: Kumarian Press, ISBN 1-56549-206-4
- Ken Wheaton (2006), "Awards Show Proves to be Gay Affair", Advertising Age
- Andrew Hampp (2007), "The Gays Celebrate Advertising Progress", Advertising Age
- Andrew Hampp (2008), "Mad Ave's Other Diversity Problem: Commercial Closet Calls on Agencies to Eliminate LGBT Stereotypes in Ads", Advertising Age
- Aparna Kumar (2001-05-08), "Commercials: Out of the Closet", Wired
- Steve Friess (2002), "Advertising: Sensitivity Training", Newsweek
- Michael McCarthy (2001-05-11), "Do Popeye and Bluto love juice — or each other?", USA Today, retrieved 2010-04-30 Check date values in:
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- Eleftheria Parpis (2008), "The Joke's Over: Withdrawing allegedly offensive gay-themed ads puts industry on notice", Adweek
- Chris Marlowe (2001), "Online Closet Outs Ads For Gay Community", The Hollywood Reporter
- "Commercial Closet Association website". Commercialcloset.org. Retrieved 2014-01-15.
- Stuart Elliott (1997-06-30), "Homosexual imagery is spreading from print campaigns to general-interest TV programming.", The New York Times, retrieved 2010-04-30
- Sender, Katherine, Business, Not Politics, (Columbia University Press, 2004), 261, Notes 20
- "2002 Crain Speakers", Official Medill/Northwestern website, 2002, archived from the original on 2010-06-13
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- Robin Wallace (2003-09-16), "Does Spending Power Buy Cultural Acceptance?", Fox News
- Ken Liebeskind (2001), "Gay Themed Ads and a Web Site That Tracks Them", MediaPost[permanent dead link]
- Commercial Closet Association
- Mike Wilke
- Advertising Educational Foundation - CCA Images In Advertising Awards winners
- Association of National Advertisers - "Gays in Commercials: Sales or Sellout?"[permanent dead link]
- Association of National Advertisers - "Building GLBT Awareness and Inclusion in Mass/ Business-to-Business Advertising"[permanent dead link]
- GLSEN/Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network - "Commercial Closet Student Viewing Guide"
- The Commercial Closet on IMDb